The job title: User Experience Designer II
Tell me a bit about your job.
I have kind of a hybrid role; I’m a jill of many trades, and do Web design, UI design, graphic design, writing, content management, and project management. So, I wear a lot of different hats. My title keeps changing back and forth between Program Manager and Designer. This year it’s User Experience Designer II.
I’m in Windows International, a team of about 350 people. We’re the ones that enable all the functionality that underlies the different language versions of Windows. Windows is available in 98 different languages, and that involves stuff like sorting & collation, fonts, globalization APIs, stuff like that.
Where’s your team based?
Mostly in Redmond and Dublin, but we also have people in over 30 different countries worldwide. And the people that are here in Redmond largely come from other countries. It’s a diverse group. We have people from more than 44 different countries on my team, and we speak more than 33 different languages.
So, are you excited for Windows 7?
Absolutely! I can’t wait for it to launch. For the past 2+ years I’ve been leading the content-and-design side of a project to help Windows 7 look and feel more locally relevant for 20 of our top markets. Windows 7 includes some really cool new personalization features, and my project dovetails with that — providing a more globally diverse range of options.
A big part of my work was in acquiring desktop photographs for our 20 markets. I worked with thousands of professional photographs, but I also organized a photo contest for Microsoft employees because I especially wanted employees in all the international subsidiaries to be able to participate. Over 2,000 photographs were submitted from employees all over the world, and then as part of the selection process I had the employees in each local subsidiary vote on all the photographs for their region.
Wow, so each region really got to voice what images worked for their area.
Yeah, employees in Brazil voted on the photos for the Brazilian Portuguese version of Windows 7, which included some of the photographs taken by employees, many of whom were in or from Brazil. In the end, out of the 270 photographs that were selected, forty were taken by Microsoft employees in a dozen different countries. I thought that was really cool, considering they were up against professional photographers. It was actually fairly competitive. Anyway, I’ve been living and breathing this project for 2-plus years, so yeah, I’m really psyched about Windows 7. It’s been a lot of work – but incredibly engrossing and fun, too.
How long have you been here?
Fall of 2009 will be both my official 10 year anniversary as a permanent employee and also the 20 year anniversary of when I first started at Microsoft in my very first “real” job out of college. During that 20 years I spent about 7 as a permatemp. I also worked at other companies for a few years, but I’ve spent most of my career at Microsoft. It feels like home to me.
What keeps you here?
A lot of reasons… I love the work I do and I work with great people. But one of the reasons Microsoft feels like home is something that seems pretty trivial and like it shouldn’t matter, yet it really does. Basically I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like a misfit — I was always the artsy introvert who never fit in, and people would think I was just a weirdo. I worked for the State for a while and I felt conspicuously weird. I wasn’t trying to be weird! I don’t have massive facial piercings or anything. But somehow I often felt uncomfortable and like an outsider.
But when I came to Microsoft I felt I was respected for what I can do. You’re treated like a grownup here. Your work isn’t micromanaged. I just feel like people can be themselves, and it’s what you can do, what you can bring to the team that really matters, not whether you went to the right college or if you’re buddying up to the right people or dressing for corporate success. It’s nice to just be able to be who you are and focus on doing your job instead.
Links please? • www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7 • windows.microsoft.com/Windows7/Personalize • http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/goglobal/default.aspx (the Go Global Developer Center – Microsoft’s global development portal) • Jennifer’s personal site: jenithea.com